The division within the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) widened Wednesday as 79 members of the National Assembly, who defected to the new faction of the party yesterday filed a suit at the Federal High Court in Abuja, asking the court to restrain the National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, from declaring their seats vacant.
The plaintiffs, 22 senators and 57 House of Representatives members stated that the division within the party necessitated the holding of a parallel convention and that they were justified legally to defect.
They listed Tukur, the Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th defendants respectively.
In the suit filed by Tairu Adebayo, the lawmakers asked the court to determine the following questions: Whether considering the circumstances in the national and various state chapters of the PDP, there exist a faction or division within the party;
Whether any of the plaintiffs or other members of the PDP holding elective seats who desires to become a member of another faction of the party or any other political party is not saved by the provisions of section 68 (1) (g) of the constitution as amended; and
Whether in view of the provision of section 68 (1) (g) of the constitution as amended, the 1st defendant or any other officer of the 4th defendant or authority howsoever described can declare the seats of any of the plaintiffs or other members of the 4th defendant that opted to join another political party vacant in the present peculiar and precarious circumstance of the 4th defendant.
They asked for the following declarations: A declaration that the circumstances prevailing in the various state chapters of the party which led to factions-divisions as witnessed at the special national convention of the 4th defendant held on August 31 and the holding of a parallel convention simultaneously at another venue, followed up with the opening of a parallel national head office and release of the names of new parallel national officers constitute and qualify as crisis and divisions anticipated under Section 68 of the constitution.
A declaration that any of the plaintiffs or other members of the party who pursuant to the crisis that led to factions/divisions in the 4th defendant, joined or desires to join another political party is/are saved by the provision of section 68 (1) (g) of the constitution without losing his/their elective seats.
A declaration that in view of the provision to Section 68 (1) (g) of the constitution, whether the 1st defendant or any other officer of the party or any person or authority whatsoever cannot declare vacant the seats of any of the plaintiffs or other members of the 4th defendant that joined or who may desire to become members of another political party in view of the present crisis that created factions /divisions in the 4th defendant vacant.
The plaintiffs want the court for an order restraining the 2nd and 3rd defendants from conducting any proceeding in their respective chambers aimed at declaring the seats of any of the plaintiffs or other members of the 4th defendant who joined or intended to become members of another political party vacant in view of the present circumstance in the 4th defendant as vacant.
They also want the court to make an restraining the 5th defendant from accepting the nominations of any purported candidate and conducting by-election aimed at filling the seats of any of the plaintiffs or other members of the 4th defendant who joined or may wish to become members of another political party in view of the present circumstances in the 4th defendant.
The case has not yet been assigned to a judge.